The question prodding us to increased productivity is almost never, “How do I fit more work into my day?” That question leads to productivity “hacks,” an exhausting pace of work, and endless to-do lists that never completely get done because there are only so many hours in the day.
A better question to ask, instead, is “What high-leverage activities should I pursue to maximize the results of my limited time?”
Your high-leverage activities are those few tasks or projects which drive a disproportionate number of results. Think of your life, work, or business in the context of The Pareto Principle, better known as the 80/20 rule.
In almost every situation, 80% of your results come from only 20% of your work. I’ve found this true in my own life and work, time and time again.
The discipline-free approach to high leverage productivity
At our last leadership team meeting, Michael Hyatt shared a thought that sparked immediate discussion: “Never rely on self-discipline when a system can do the job.”
Internally, we’re still talking about this concept. A “system” can mean anything from intentional delegation to a recurring event on your calendar to selecting technology that works for you (even when you stop).
Let’s say, for example, that your goal was related directly to business growth.
You need to grow revenue, and that means growing your list of customers. To do that you need to grow your overall audience, or perhaps your social media following.
When you’re “hustling” to get leads, make a sale, or get people to share your content, you are trading time for traction—which puts an impenetrable ceiling on your potential for growth.
If, on the other hand, you spend your time creating a high-leverage system of growth, you can take a deep breath, put down your phone, and smile as new followers, prospects, and clients come to you. Consider these 3 steps for setting up a self-perpetuating system of growth.
Step 1: Identify your target advocates
Growth becomes “viral” when your message starts spreading from person to person without your direct involvement in each interaction.
You may already have pockets of that type of growth, so look closely—where are your prospects, clients, or followers coming from right now? Who are your existing customers or followers who have sent friends, family, or colleagues to you?
If you can identify consistent themes in this group, you know your target advocates. The next question becomes how to create a win-win scenario so your target advocates spread your message on your behalf.
Step 2: Incentivize contagious enthusiasm
Once you’ve identified your target advocates, look for the one or two examples who best reflect contagious enthusiasm for your business or brand.
Do you have successful customers who tell all their friends and colleagues about your offer, or share every blog post you write?
To replicate that relationship with a broader audience, you will need to get inside their head. This requires a heavy dose of empathy, but if you can create a compelling incentive for your target advocates, a new wave of advocates will start sharing your message on your behalf.
This could mean a referral reward to past customers who send you new customers, or giving followers a free download when they share your social media content.
Step 3: Automate your self-perpetuating system
This step is when your system truly becomes a “viral loop.”
Whenever possible, use technology to communicate your system to your target advocates. If you can automate incentive delivery, that’s even better.
When this system becomes self-perpetuating, your upfront time investment leads to continued growth long after you step away, to focus your high-leverage attention somewhere else.
For us, that’s priceless exposure to a new audience with the help of our current audience (our target advocates). Because this Viral Loop is self-perpetuating, that post still gets new social shares every single day.
Looking at your own work and schedule, how could you create your own viral loop? Are there high-leverage activities you should be doing, and others you should forget?